Posted On October 12, 2011 by Print This Post

Sara Megibow Sells Romance – The RU #AskAgent Event

Sara is back! This month in her truly innovative style, she is opening up her post to any questions you want to ask.  How often will get a chance like this?

I am a big fan of twitter – use it all the time (too much probably) and encourage my clients to use it. If you want to find me, my handle is @SaraMegibow and all of my clients are on my List called “SaraMegibow/authors”.
One of the neatest elements of twitter is the practice of holding #AskAgent sessions – a free-for-all, type your question and get it answered in live time chat session. (For you newbies, we label chat sessions on twitter with a hashmark like this – #AskAgent – and that’s how someone can watch or participate in the live time conversation). Of course, the writer has to be able to ask their question in 140 characters (twitter’s max letter count) and the agent has to be able to answer in the same.
So, for this months’ Romance University post, I thought we’d hold an #AskAgent session here instead of on twitter. Fun, huh?

Here are the rules – ask anything you want an agent (me) to answer BUT only ask if you are ok with the public (ie. The Romance U readers) seeing your question and my answer. Please do not pitch your novel – I am actively acquiring new clients, but accepting submissions only at (submission guidelines available at Please keep questions short (no, you don’t have to stick to 140 characters, but try to keep it to 1-2 sentences). Do not post any weblinks, headshots, sample pages, youtube videos, icons, etc. Finally, I won’t be able to go back and address “follow ups” – do you best to be clear and concise in your question the first time around.
Post your question as a Comment here on today’s blog post and I will answer as a reply to your comment. I will respond periodically throughout the day and hope to finish up by about 5:00pm MST.

To save time, these are the three most common questions I get asked in any and all interviews. PLEASE do not ask these questions as…POOF…here are the answers. 😉

1) What are you looking for in the slush pile?
Anything well-written with a unique concept. I know, I know – it’s a cop out answer, but it’s the truth. Superior writing always catches my attention – I am looking to fall in love with my clients’ books. In general, I would love more romance authors – both in the adult and young adult categories, contemporary and historical (yes, even Regency!), paranormals, Scottish highlanders – you name it, I’m on the hunt!

2) What are you seeing too much of in the slush pile?
In young adult fiction we are still seeing a lot of dystopian. Yes, I can still sell it, but it’s becoming generic. In romance, I see a ton of contemporaries – especially romantic suspense. That’s ok – my two debut authors for 2012 write contemporary romance (Roni Loren and Tiffany Reisz – check ‘em out at their websites and So, I know contemporaries sell well. If it’s well-crafted, then don’t worry too much about trends – the writing is what counts.

3) What is the correct word count for…?
Middle grade = 35,000-55,000 words (fantasy can be a wee longer)
Young adult = 50,000-85,000 words (again, fantasy or dystopian can be a wee longer)
Adult romance of ALL subgenres = 100,000 words (unless you are writing category romance or novellas – both of which are awesome but neither of which I represent)
Science fiction or fantasy with a romantic element (for the adult market) = 90,000-120,000 words

And now…Welcome to the Romance University #AskAgent,


So, the question is obvious . . .  what do you want to ask Sara?

On Friday, Hank Edwards will be with us to discuss his decision to self-publish.


Sara has a great book for on lucky commenter . . . .

UNCLAIMED by NYTimes Bestselling author Courtney Milan

Her only hope for survival…

Handsome, wealthy and respected, Sir Mark Turner is the most sought-after bachelor in all of London—and he’s known far and wide for his irreproachable character. But behind his virtuous reputation lies a passionate nature he keeps carefully in check… until he meets the beautiful Jessica Farleigh, the woman he’s waited for all his life.
Is to ruin the man she loves…

But Jessica is a courtesan, not the genteel lady Sir Mark believes. Desperate to be free of a life she despises, she seizes her chance when Mark’s enemies make her an offer she can’t refuse:  Seduce Mark and tarnish his good name, and a princely sum will be hers. Yet as she comes to know the man she’s sworn to destroy, Jessica will be forced to choose between the future she needs…and the love she knows is impossible.


Bio: Sara Megibow, Associate Literary Agent
Nelson Literary Agency, LLC

Sara has worked at the Nelson Literary Agency since 2006. As the Associate Literary Agent, Sara is actively acquiring new clients! The Nelson Literary Agency specializes in representing all genres of romance (except inspirational or category), young adult fiction of all subgenres, science fiction/ fantasy and commercial fiction (including women’s fiction and chick lit). Sara is an avid romance reader and a rabid fan girl of super sexy and intelligent stories.

Nelson Literary Agency is a member of AAR, RWA, SFWA and SCBWI. Please visit our website http:// submission guidelines, FAQs, resources and sample query letters. Sara’s Publisher’s Marketplace site ( is a great place to find more about her personal tastes, clients and recent sales. You can also cyber stalk Sara on twitter @SaraMegibow

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58 Responses to “Sara Megibow Sells Romance – The RU #AskAgent Event”

  1. Great fun, Sara!

    What do you love about today’s historicals? What do you dislike?

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | October 12, 2011, 4:32 am
    • Excellent question!

      I love historicals like Sherry Thomas and Julie Ann Long because they dare to be uber sexy. YUM

      I dislike the common-feeling hook (ugly girl almost on the shelf attracts the ton’s hot boy)

      Posted by Sara Megibow | October 12, 2011, 7:52 am
  2. Sara – as always – it is an absolute pleasure to have you here at RU!

    My question requires you to pull out your crystal ball – what genre do you see having the most potential to grow in the next 12 months?

    Posted by Robin Covington | October 12, 2011, 5:41 am
    • Well, we’re getting sexier and sexier, so the answer is two fold. In general (contemp and historical), the sexier the better – especially with accelerated ebook sales.

      However, I do see a small niche alongside that one for virgin heroes and conservative heroines.

      Happy to be here – thanks Robin!

      Posted by Sara Megibow | October 12, 2011, 7:54 am
  3. Good morning, Sara! Great idea. I’m curious with the explosion of indie publishing how agents feel about taking on project by project clients.

    So, if an author only wants the agent to represent them for specific books, how does that work?


    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | October 12, 2011, 6:25 am
    • That’s not a service I offer today, so I wouldn’t know. It’s probably an awesome idea, however, I am really a better agent for someone who wants a long term partner. I want to grow with my clients.

      I think there’s tons of opportunities for agents of both types – the small client list with long term, career service (like me) and the project-by-project agent.
      Great question!

      Posted by Sara Megibow | October 12, 2011, 7:56 am
  4. Hi Sara! I see you rep SFR and I was curious – are NY publishers actively buying SFR right now? (I know epubs are) I ask because I’ve been hesitant to query agents after being told by one who reps SFR that it’s not selling. Maybe you’re having a different experience?

    Thanks for being here!

    Posted by Kat Cantrell | October 12, 2011, 6:52 am
    • Honestly, if it’s well-written and I love it, I will rep it. Seriously – I don’t care if it’s SF or historical or whatever – I am just looking to love a clients writing. Everyone and their dog told me that uber sexy heroine with multiple heroes wouldn’t sell, and yet Tiffany Reisz debuts next year from Harlequin with THE SIREN and has two more single titles and two more enovellas sold after that.

      So, if you wrote it and you love it, go for it! I would absolutely read that kind of query. However, I will ask for sample pages based on teh writing alone – not the concept.

      Posted by Sara Megibow | October 12, 2011, 7:58 am
  5. Good morning Sara!

    I have two questions…if I may.

    First, if you had a crystal ball, what will the Agency model look like in 5 years?

    Second, recently an agent stated italics, highlighting deep inner thought, is lazy writing. I found the statement provocative. Do you have any thought on this form of craft?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

    Posted by Elizabeth Kelley | October 12, 2011, 7:12 am
    • This is a tough question – I want to give you a meaningful answer, however the truth is that I don’t have a crystal ball. 🙁

      I agent because I love books. I know people will still be reading books – whether in print, electronic or some format we don’t yet know about. How agents and authors get paid for those books changes constantly. So, my suggestion is to learn about the publishing industry but not to obsess about it. Write to write and make the best decisions we can.

      As for craft – for me, absolutely everything is trumped by great writing. I’m not the slightest bit worried about italics or other choices in craft.

      I hope that helps!

      Posted by Sara Megibow | October 12, 2011, 8:30 am
  6. Good morning, Sara. Nice of you to take the time to answer questions.

    What about GLBT? Is there anything in particular you are looking for?

    Posted by Maggie | October 12, 2011, 7:22 am
    • I am always looking for LGBT authors and LGBT characters. For me, a story with LGBT characters stands out when it is authentic. For example, Jane Kindred’s upcoming epic fantasy with romantic elements has LGBT elements. To me, the characters are just who they are and the story is 100% authentic.

      Characters who feel like they have a moral to tell can feel too heavy to me.

      Posted by Sara Megibow | October 12, 2011, 8:32 am
  7. #AskAgent What do you wish authors knew about agents?

    Thanks for hosting your fun chat on RU today, Sara!


    Posted by Kelsey Browning | October 12, 2011, 7:24 am
    • Good question.

      HOnestly, the thing that I wish to impress…and it’s an uncomfortable one…is that my job is to sell and support my clients. I know writers feel frustrated that we send impresonal rejections to queries, sample pages and sometimes even fulls. But, my job is to sell my clients books – print rights, audio, foreign, film, etc. Then, to support that book with contract negotiation, auditing royalties, marketing and promotions, networking, etc. To craft their careers – with editing and reading, etc. I can’t call up Miranda Kenneally and say “I’m sorry I didn’t follow up on that film deal for you, I was critiquing slush pile.”

      Sooooo awkward to admit it to new writers, but that’s the truth. That’s why we do conferences and things like ROmance U – to try to help the new writers get to published author status. 🙂

      Posted by Sara Megibow | October 12, 2011, 9:35 am
  8. Morning Sara!

    Here’s my q – what’s hot in MG? What are you looking for?

    short and sweet, just like me! lol…


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | October 12, 2011, 7:45 am
    • I’m currently shopping a gothic fantasy MG – LOVE it!

      Let’s see – sweet as opposed to edgy, backyard adventures or fantasy. no more superheroes or kids who learn they have special powers. It *can* work, but I’ve seen a lot of them.

      Posted by Sara Megibow | October 12, 2011, 9:36 am
  9. Are the word counts you posted non-negotiable? For example, you see a romance that’s 85,000 words, that is an automatic pass for you? Thank you

    Posted by Nicole | October 12, 2011, 7:54 am
  10. This sort of ties into Adrienne’s question:
    How might you work with an author who wishes to publish both indie and traditionally in terms of selecting which projects for which publishing platform?

    How do you see your role changing as a result of the explosion in indie publishing?

    Posted by PatriciaW | October 12, 2011, 8:00 am
    • My advice to each of my clients re. trad and indie is different. So, this answer would be in general.

      In general, I say that epub and print pub are two legitimate forms of distribution. How to scramble together a career based on the options for epub (indie or trad) and print (typically traditional) is the question of the day. Most of my clients are debut authors, so I recommend traditional publishing with e and print books created by traditional publishers. Again, that’s IN GENERAL. And that’s MY clients. The “real” answer varies greatly by client/ situation/ book/ etc.

      If you are saying “indie publishing” to mean self pubbed ebooks, then my role will be to help my clients navigate the pros and cons of each (trad and indie) to have the career they want. I don’t, right now, intend to sign clients who just want to go indie (meaning self pubbed ebooks for sake of this response) as I think, for debut writers, and IN GENERAL, it’s not leveraging the benefits of print distribution.

      eeek – hard answer, sorry!

      Posted by Sara Megibow | October 12, 2011, 9:40 am
  11. My question has to do with crossing genre lines. I recently finished revising a manuscript that is a contemporary romance but has strong paranormal (visions, demonic spirit, ghosts) elements. How should I categorize this ms when I query? Is it a paranormal romance (I don’t think so. Not paranormal enough)? Or is it a contemporary romance? Is it ok for me to call it a contemporary romance with paranormal elements? Thanks for taking the time to do this. Love your #AskAgent on Twitter.

    Posted by MelissaS | October 12, 2011, 8:24 am
  12. Thank you for doing this, Sara.

    Let’s say an agent offers representation. The writer says, “Thank you! I would love to talk about my book and ask you questions. I do have the manuscript out with a couple of other agents and would like to let them know there’s an offer on the table so I can make my final decision in a week.”

    Would it be weird if the agent doesn’t respond for five days? And supposing the author follows up to say again that she would like to talk about the book, what might be going on? How long should the writer wait? Could the agent be waiting for another colleague’s expertise if the agent is new? Let’s say (despite the odd silence) the author is particularly excited about working with this agent.

    Posted by Jade | October 12, 2011, 8:56 am
    • I don’t know. It’s a strange situation.

      Here’s how I do it…I offer rep and state that it’s 100% ok to let other agents know of an offer on the table. Then, I ask that the writer let those agents know they have 1-2 weeks to offer. So, I’ve offered and then I call and we talk about the book. Then, I wait to see who he/she has chosen.

      If a writer responds with “let’s talk about the book” my answer is “ok” and we do it. I typically respond within 5 days, but I can’t swear that everyone does,

      Hope that helps

      Posted by Sara Megibow | October 12, 2011, 10:06 am
  13. Hi Sara,

    How important is the opening line or paragraph?

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | October 12, 2011, 9:02 am
  14. Thanks for this wonderful chance to question you! I heard the term chic lit is not popular now. Does that type of book still interest publishers under a different category, like romantic comedy?

    Posted by Larissa Hoffman | October 12, 2011, 9:37 am
  15. Sara – I’m very relieved to see your comment about the word count for adult romance of all subgenres. I’ve been trying to whittle mine down, closer to 90K. Not sure where the word count will end up once I complete the revisions, but it will be in the right ball park, thank goodness!

    Posted by Becke Martin/Davis | October 12, 2011, 9:41 am
  16. Hi Sara. Should a writer have a different agent for each genre they write? For example: I write YA/SFF and children’s picture books. Should I try to find an agent who handles all of that, or one agent for picture books and someone else for the SFF/YA?


    Posted by Robin A. Burrows | October 12, 2011, 9:54 am
  17. I’m back! Thought of another question which we have talked about previously and I thought you had good insight.

    For an unpublished or very newly published, how important is it to focus on one publishing house and develop your career with them before branching out to other publishers/ genres? Or, should you diversify right away?

    Posted by Robin Covington | October 12, 2011, 10:56 am
    • My advice to my clients would be to create a brand and a relationship with one house and stick with that. The advice is different for everyone, but IN GENERAL, that’ my opinion

      Posted by Sara Megibow | October 12, 2011, 11:34 am
  18. I attended a regional SCBWI conference last weekend, and there was much talk amongst writers about whether MG was following the YA trend of 1st person POV replacing 3rd. Do you have any thoughts on this?

    Posted by Alysia Mathews | October 12, 2011, 11:24 am
  19. For people writing historicals outside of the Victorian/Georgian/Regency time periods, what is essential for their book to have besides the obvious great story/great writing?

    Any non-Regency time periods coming into vogue right now?

    Thanks so much for this (and looking forward to the WD seminar tomorrow!)

    Posted by Bluestocking | October 12, 2011, 12:20 pm
    • Ooooo – I’d love to see more Scottish books and 1700s America (like Pamela Clare’s SURRENDER)

      Keep the world building brilliant – that’s super important. Hope that helps! me too – tomorrow will be fun!

      Posted by Sara Megibow (@SaraMegibow) | October 12, 2011, 2:08 pm
  20. Since we send the query into a group mailbox, should we still address it to the agent we want (ie. Ms. Megibow)? Or does an agency have their own method for dispensing queries (like be genre)?

    Posted by Amber | October 12, 2011, 1:10 pm
    • For our agency, it’s best to address to either Kristin or Sara OR if you really don’t want to choose “Kristin and Sara” is fine too. But, only send one query


      Posted by Sara Megibow (@SaraMegibow) | October 12, 2011, 2:09 pm
  21. Does a YA paranormal romance told from the (non-human) man’s POV have a place in today’s market?

    Posted by Emma | October 12, 2011, 1:41 pm
  22. For a SF romance, would you shop it to SF or romance editors? Would you advise a writer to lean such a story more to the SF or romance audience?

    Posted by Martha | October 12, 2011, 2:07 pm
    • very good question.

      Where do you see it in the bookstore? If in romance, with a pretty cover and the main story is the romance between hero and heroine, then we shop it as romance.

      If you see it in the sf/f section, with a spaceship on the cover, then we shop it sf.

      Posted by Sara Megibow (@SaraMegibow) | October 12, 2011, 2:11 pm
      • I see the cover with a chocolate truffle partially wrapped in a high tech futuristic packaging. I suppose that’s sci fi? The relationship is definitely the story though.

        Is the market better for romance or SF?

        Posted by Martha | October 13, 2011, 9:31 am
        • The honest answer is that the market is best for whatever is well written. I know it’s a cop out answer, however it’s the truth – superior writing? I can sell it.

          Posted by Sara Megibow (@SaraMegibow) | October 14, 2011, 11:47 am
  23. When I first wrote my Fantasy’s first draft, I was aiming for YA, but now with revisions and refining the story, it really could be an upper middle grade story. It’s 60,000 words. Do you suggest querying it as YA or MG? Maybe you can’t answer that question without reading it. I’m having a heck of a time deciding because I love MG and YA. But any insight would be appreciated. Thanks!

    Posted by Becky | October 12, 2011, 4:05 pm
    • What’s the age of the protagonist? If 10-12, then MG. If 13-18, then YA.

      Also, try reading some fantasy MG (RECKLESS by Cornelia Funke for example) and YA fantasy (ASH by Malinda Lo) to get a sense of the differences.

      Posted by Sara Megibow (@SaraMegibow) | October 14, 2011, 11:48 am
  24. Hi Sara!

    I’m going to piggyback off of Becke’s question about length on single title submissions.

    I’ve “heard” all kinds of advice on the length of ST submissions. My ST rom com is around 100K. But I’ve heard no more than 85K or 90K. Is it just a personal preference?

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | October 12, 2011, 4:33 pm
  25. I’ve got to run to host my girlfriends for Bunko at my house (stop on by for drink and a game!) but I wanted to thank Sara for another great post and all the commenters for stopping by.

    I’ll post the winner tomorrow!

    Carry on!


    Posted by Robin Covington | October 12, 2011, 4:59 pm
  26. Hi Sara!
    With the state that publishing is right now, would you ever advise your clients to self-publish and what would those circumstances be?

    Posted by writertay | October 12, 2011, 6:58 pm
    • How I advise my clients is different for each client. The important thing to leverage, in my opinion, is ebook sales AND print book sales. So, the choice for my clients to self publish would be one in which they have no interest in doing print books. There are times for that, however, it would be on a client by client basis.

      Posted by Sara Megibow (@SaraMegibow) | October 14, 2011, 11:51 am
  27. And the winner is . . . . Elizabeht Kelley! I’ll get Sara your email address for your giveaway!

    Thanks everyone for commenting and for Sara for giving us another great day at RU!

    Posted by Robin Covington | October 16, 2011, 1:42 pm

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